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Labour Force Information
December 2002


The strong upward trend in employment that began at the start of 2002 continued in December, with an increase of 58,000 jobs, mostly in full-time. Over the year, employment rose 3.7% (+560,000), the highest annual growth rate since 1987. Despite the job growth in December, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.5% for the month, as a large number of persons entered the labour force.

The proportion of the working-age population holding a job (employment rate) rose to an all-time high of 62.4% in December. Meanwhile, the labour force participation rate hit 67.5%, equalled only once before in January 1990.

Widespread employment gains in 2002

Overall job growth for 2002 was concentrated in manufacturing, health care and social assistance, educational services and construction. With the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, employment rose in all provinces, with Ontario and Quebec accounting for nearly two-thirds of the overall increase. Youths, adult women and adult men all benefited from the strong labour market in 2002.

In December, full-time employment increased by 46 000. In contrast to 2001 when the modest job gains were all in part-time, full-time employment jumped 336,000 (+2.7%) in 2002. Part-time growth was also strong, surging 223,000 (+8.1%) over the year.

Manufacturing employment grew substantially in 2002

The manufacturing sector contributed greatly to the growth in 2002, with an increase of 125,000 jobs (+5.6%) for the year. Since the start of 2002, the largest gains were in the manufacturing of food, machinery and wood products. The year ended on a negative note as manufacturing employment fell 25,000 in December, almost entirely the result of automotive layoffs in Ontario.

Record proportion of adult women in labour force

Job strength continued among adult women, increasing 37,000 in December. As a result of an increased number of adult women in the labour force, their unemployment rate remained at 6.1% in December. During 2002, employment among adult women grew by a healthy 4.2% (+244,000), with much of the increase in full-time work. Sustained growth of the proportion of adult women in the labour force over 2002 brought their participation rate to 60.7 % in December, the highest ever recorded.

Among adult men, the number of jobs edged up 15,000 in December, all in full-time. Despite this increase, their unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 6.7% because of an increase in the number of adult men looking for work. In 2002, employment for adult men rose by 211,000 (+3.1%) and was concentrated in full-time work.

Although their employment level was little changed in December, youths benefited from a strong labour market in 2002, with employment rising 4.5% (+104,000). Most of the increase was in part-time work. Over 2002, the youth unemployment rate fell 0.7 percentage points to 13.3% by year end.

Employment gains in educational services and trade

December's employment growth was spread among several industries. The largest gain was in educational services, where 20,000 jobs were added in December. The increase was concentrated in Ontario. Employment in this industry was up by a robust 8.2% (+79,000) in 2002, due mainly to gains in elementary and secondary education.

In December, employment rose by 19,000 in the trade sector, with almost all of the increase occurring in Ontario. Following strong growth in 2001, employment in trade stabilized in 2002 and ended the year up 0.6%.

The number of jobs in management, administrative and other support services rose by 15,000 in December, mostly in Alberta. Employment in this industry ended the year up 43,000 (+7.6%), with much of the increase in business support services.

Employment remained strong in construction, with 14,000 jobs added in December. Most of the increase occurred in Ontario. Low interest rates and a strong housing market throughout 2002 contributed to the sizeable job growth of 62,000 (+7.4%) in this sector.

Employment was up by 13,000 in professional, scientific and technical services in December. Employment in this industry advanced by 51,000 (+5.3%) in 2002 and was concentrated in computer systems design and related services.

Strong increase in number of private sector employees

The number of private sector employees increased for the fifth consecutive month, jumping 63,000 in December and bringing gains over the year to 343,000 (+3.4%).

Public sector employment was little changed in December. Nevertheless, 2002 was a strong year for the public sector with an increase of 4.2% (+120,000) between December 2001 and December 2002. The gains were concentrated in health care and social assistance, educational services and the federal government.

In December, self-employment was little changed but it increased by 97,000 (+4.2%) over the year, in contrast to losses in the previous two years.

Quebec led the growth in December

In December, employment in Quebec jumped by 31,000, almost all full-time. A large number of persons entering the labour force in December tempered the decline in the unemployment rate, which edged down 0.2 percentage points to 8.4%.

December's increase adds to the strong gains made in the first half of the year in Quebec. Employment ended the year up 4.8% (+168,000), the highest growth rate since 1983. As a result, the unemployment rate fell by 1.3 percentage points. The employment gain in Quebec occurred in both full-time (+88,000) and part-time (+80,000) work. The increase for 2002 was spread among several industries but was especially strong in manufacturing, educational services and professional, scientific and technical services. Both the employment rate (60.3%) and the participation rate (65.9%) in December were the highest on record.

Employment rose slightly (+14,000) in Ontario in December. At the same time, the number of unemployed grew by 22,000, causing the unemployment rate to rise by 0.3 percentage points to end the year at 7.0%. In December, sharp declines in manufacturing and transportation employment were offset by increases in trade, construction and educational services. Because of a robust labour market through most of the second half of the year, the number of jobs rose by 196,000 (+3.3%) in 2002, mostly in full-time and concentrated in manufacturing and educational services.

In Alberta, employment advanced by 9,000 in December, with all the increase in full-time. As a result, the unemployment rate declined 0.2 percentage points to 5.1%. Alberta ended the year with a gain of 63,000 jobs (+3.9%) compared with December 2001.

Following three consecutive monthly losses, employment rebounded in December in Newfoundland and Labrador. The number of jobs grew by 4,000, mainly in construction as well as in transportation. This increase was accompanied by a rise in labour force participation in December, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 18.5%. Compared to a year ago, employment was little changed (-0.3%).

Although employment was little changed in the other provinces in December, employment gains were made in all provinces over 2002 except Newfoundland and Labrador. Saskatchewan had the highest employment growth rate (5.5%) with an increase of 25 000 jobs, while employment grew by 4.2% (+81,000) in British Columbia and by 3.9% (+13,000) in New Brunswick.

Note to readers

Annual average estimates for 2002 are now available on CANSIM (tables 282-0001 to 282-0094).


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